[Ideological Content Analysis is both pleased and privileged to bring readers this thought-provoking and patriarchy-challenging guest post by Rokuro “Rocky” Roth-Hideyoshi, roving pop correspondent for Beat/Down: A Journal of Queer Quriticism and Aural Experience.]
Does any circumstance better illustrate the unrepentant heteronormative and intra-racial supremacy of corporate radio than the fact that “Pink Cadillac”, Bruce Springsteen’s hate-saturated 1984 B-side to the disturbing “Dancing in the Dark”, continues to receive occasional airplay on nominally non-Aryanist networks and to be hosted on YouTube and other popular websites without censorship or content disclaimers? As Kevin Ransom writes, it is one of those “songs that have practically been pounded into cliché by super-heavy radio rotation.” Springsteen’s ersatz protestations of anti-racist commitment are never convincing – a case, one suspects, in which, as Hamlet would put it, “the hater doth protest too much” – and even assuming the “Boss” has the best and most progressive of intentions, his social justice eruption insurance premium is always going to be on the high side in view of the unforgettable wreck that constitutes his “Pink Cadillac”.
An unabashed paean to European-American sexual exclusivity as well as a puerile celebration of priapic chauvinism, “Pink Cadillac” concerns the leering interest of its self-aggrandizingly amorous protagonist in the “back”, i.e., posterior, of a womban’s “Cadillac”, or objectified, dehumanized, commercialized, and customized “crushed velvet” body – conceptualized in this instance as an empty vehicle-vessel requiring a licensed (i.e., privileged) driver – which is, of course, to say an owner. “But my love is bigger than a Honda, it’s bigger than a Subaru,” he insists, betraying his insecurity while at the same time perpetuating the adolescent cruelty of the miniature Asian male sexual organ stereotype. Springsteen is one of those white men who only feels adequate when he has succeeded in making the other – in this case, the “yellow man” he fantasizes about killing in “Born in the U.S.A.” – feel small and marginalized.
The economic context, one must also remember, found the American worker and music consumer – Springsteen’s primary audience – uncertain about the future of their country’s industrial base in the face of Japanese electronics and automotive competition after nativist propagandists had largely succeeded in riling white Americans into a paranoid frenzy about global trade and the opportunities this presented for economic development in an increasingly interconnected and justice-seeking planetary order. The butt-wiggling braggadocio of the “Boss”, then, must have provided a powerful salve to the chafed egos and bruised sexualities of a generation of self-absorbed and privileged white males in desperate need of perpetual reassurance. Losing at one game, he plays another: reproductive protectionism.
“Honey, I just wonder what you do there in the back of your Pink Cadillac,” he declares, hovering hairily over the listener, who feels herself almost compelled to detect the beer that is undoubtedly on his breath. He positively belches a pushy, intrusive curiosity about the sexual history of an unnamed female-gendered person, and one is left to glean from the rapist protagonist’s later reference to Eve that Springsteen is addressing a womban. Invading her mental and physical space, he commands her to “come on over here and hug me” in an attempt at projected volition so as to facilitate his intention of sexual assault and simultaneously implicate the victim as an accomplice in his own act of non-consensual violation. His invocation of Eve, too, serves to shame the target of his transgression into complicity by establishing a useful correlative with the temptress of myth.
The song, which Springsteen wrote in its first version under the rapey title “Love Is a Dangerous Thing” in 1981, took on anti-Semitic and white supremacist overtones as it devolved into what would become the honky-tonk clunker “Pink Cadillac”. In an erratic aside, the “Boss” – knowing he has the undivided attention of his impressionable audience – actually interrupts the assault to address his male listeners specifically, wishing to issue a warning to them about an imagined Jewish peril. “Well, they tempt you, man, with silver, and they tempt you, sir, with gold,” he rants, going on to espouse the canard about how the Joooooooz also “tempt you with the pleasures the flesh does surely hold.” Honestly, Mr. Springsteen? In 1984? The “Boss” confirmed for the world the depth and grossness of his anti-Semitism and sexism when he forbade peerless diva Bette Midler to include a cover of “Pink Cadillac” on her 1983 album No Frills.
Springsteen also revealed his frightening adherence to the white supremacist beliefs of the Christian Identity cult when he prefaced a live 1984 performance of “Pink Cadillac” with these contextualizing remarks: “Now, this is a song about the conflict… between worldly things and spiritual health… between desires of the flesh… and spiritual ecstasy… now, where did this conflict begin?… well, it began in the beginning in a place called the Garden of Eden… now, the Garden of Eden was originally believed to have been located in Mesopotamia… but the latest theological studies have found that its actual location was ten miles south of Jersey City, off the New Jersey Turnpike… now, understand, in the Garden of Eden, there were none of the accouterments of modern living… I mean they didn’t have no Laundromats, they didn’t have no like, like little toasters you could put your Pop-Tarts in and then watch Johnny Carson on TV…”
Relocating the Garden of Eden from the geographical Middle East to some presumably pristine white enclave of the American imaginary when it was still free of the tacky consumerist dreck and mass media “brainwashing” peddled by the stereotypical Jewish merchant caricature of anti-Semitic propaganda, Springsteen casts Adam as the progenitor of the Aryans, whom he believes to be the living embodiment of Israel. BDS activists have attacked Springsteen for the singer’s apparent willingness to tour the Zionist state this summer; but these misguided crypto-racist neckbeards miss the point entirely. Springsteen, if the dark history of “Pink Cadillac” is any indication, is venturing to Israel not to entertain the evil Joooooooz, but to conquer and occupy what he, in the fever of his sweaty, race-crazed delusions, regards as the rightful lebensraum of the Aryan Nations of Jersey.
No wonder a 2012 study found that listening to Bruce Springsteen music for seven minutes can turn normal people into racists!
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